By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — The Vietnamese Catholic community celebrated the Feast of the Assumption on Aug. 15 with song, dance, balloon releases, a procession, Mass and a reception at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Mary is the patron saint of the Vietnamese, known as Our Lady of La Vang. “We believe she gave us hope during the persecution of Catholics in Vietnam in 1798,” said Martin Ngo, president of the Vietnamese Catholic Community.
“Mary appeared to the Vietnamese to help them through crisis, disease, hunger and oppression by the government at that time. Since then, Vietnamese Catholics continue to honor Mary for helping them through tough times.” The tradition continues in Vietnam and the United States.
“Last year was our 40th anniversary for creating the Vietnamese community (in Davenport),” said Julie Doan of the Vietnamese Catholic Community. “We planned to invite all of the past parish members to celebrate with us, but it couldn’t happen because of COVID.”
This year, in the courtyard beside Sacred Heart Cathedral, members of the Vietnamese Catholic Community and Sacred Heart Cathedral gathered on a beautiful, sunny Sunday. Some wore traditional Vietnamese clothing. Father Thang Hoang, rector from Divine Word College in Epworth, was the presider. Concelebrants were Father Thom Hennen, the cathedral’s pastor; Father Hai Dinh, pastor of parishes in Hills, Lone Tree and Nichols; Father Khoa Le, parochial vicar at Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine; and Divine Word College priests Father Michael Nguyen, who gave the homily, Father Son Le, Father Kha Nguyen and Father Dinh Le. Deacons Dan Huber and John Jacobsen of Sacred Heart Cathedral assisted.
Before processing into the cathedral for Mass, participants said prayers, sang and danced before the statue of Our Lady of La Vang and then released bunches of balloons and a rosary fashioned from balloons. Women of the parish carried a statue of Our Lady of La Vang into the cathedral. After Mass, participants enjoyed traditional homemade Vietnamese food in the parish hall.